A+ A A-

Drinking in Kensal: The Island

By Wills Morgan
EVENING ISLAND: a dramatic shot of a place known for 50 years of no little drama... — at The Island.
 
It’s been seven months since THE ISLAND was turned from College Road’s local bar and restaurant into a brasserie...so it’s time to ask some questions. How’s it going? How are the staff members fitting in? What’s on the menu? Can I get a pint with that please, yeah?
 
Let’s recap, then: as early as 1896 there was an application for a pub in College Park to be called the VICTOR TAVERN, which was refused at the time. It was not until as recently as 1970 that a licence was eventually agreed for that area, which was owned by All Souls College, Oxford (Churches seemed to own all sorts of ungodly things in the old days…even Libraries…don’t get me started on that).
 
The result: an extraordinary detached pub called THE BUCCANEER. The Buccaneer was probably the last...and ugliest...of Willesden's purpose-built pub buildings. It gave the vague impression of the hull of a pirate ship. And, given the weather we have around these parts you won't be surprised that everybody remembers the Buccaneer...but no-one misses it. 
 
Anyway, to cut a long story short...improvements were made to the building around about 2003 or 2004: and the ISLAND as the locals knew it (and loved it as if it were their own living room, albeit with a tacky bar attached) continued to sort-of-exist till October of last year.
 
Cue three weeks of speedy renovation which only looked good if you were in a helicopter flying over the M25 (that’s not my joke, ladies and gents: it comes courtesy of an anonymous builder).
 
And then came the opening: featuring a bar flooded full of aliens bussed in from all divisions of the owners’ vast empire. I remember standing outside and saying to a mate: ‘Who the hell are these people?’ “They’re the folks looking back and saying ‘who the hell are you?” was my mate’s reply.
a rare sunny day in Kensal: the Island with its awning down. — at The Island.
That was then. Let’s get up to speed with the now: that now being the summer of 2013. 
 
No matter whatever the upwardly-mobile inhabitants of Kensal get up (and get mobile) to, you can be sure that they will slope towards their local pub on a Friday.  Indeed: whenever the days are long, and the only thing blocking the sun's rays are cheap awnings attached to shops nearby, there is no reason to do anything different with the best days of your lives...not when you can stand outside with your mates at your local.
SUMMER SOLTICE: wishful thinking. — at The Island.
So the fact that the ISLAND's terraced garden is back in business is not just good news: it's very good business. Newly-purchased outdoor furniture creates a positive impression. The area is bordered and maintained by a brick creation: with some token greenery that is happily wearing away. The tier of the building below the roof is painted outside in white, so that when the corner of Herbert Gardens is bathed in afternoon light, near enough everybody on College Road is keen for a swim.
 
Portions of the old ISLAND`s décor remain in the seating that lines the restaurant on the upper floor. However, it is easily upstaged by large fans that seem to ape the rotations of a ‘Chinook’ helicopter. On the Sunday afternoon I appear for lunch, I am grateful that the noise from the prominently featured loudspeakers (as well as the said fans) is being carefully controlled.
THE BAR: the ITV prog 'Girlfriends is being shot here. One of Kirsty Alsoppy's housy things has been shot here. — at The Island.
Entry is still via the bar on the ground level. The owners say they specialise in giving their venues 'character and style'. With the ISLAND they have tried to imprint the new 'style' on a much-loved character. Well, the wood panelling and bar area succeeds in adding to a nice, tight space in which punters can explore and see what's on store. But the multitude of framed pictures purporting to be 'Harlesden' feels like overkill to me. It’s similar to watching plasma screens...with all the energy-sapping efficiency that implies.
 
The main point is this: time has clearly been spent turning the ISLAND into a place where you would want to come more than once a week. And to make that happen you need to have quality eats, quality drinks and quality staff.
 
Part of the problem with the brewing industry is that too many pubs fob us off with cheap and ugly beer. The ISLAND’s owners opt for the alternative, and I applaud them for this. There’s a regular rotation of ales on draft, and all of them are recommendable. The staff members are quite friendly: they’re led by Ian, a Merseyside man who serves as an excellent foil to those supporters of London-based football clubs.
 
The area below the bar has been converted into a snug little nook called (reasonably enough) ‘The Snug’. It’s another tight space; but roomier. This area is good for private bookings, community meetings, pub quizzes...or just getting away from the bar area. The old TV (plasma, of course) is still there: if it offends your gaze there are corners where you hide from it. Just buy the Becks, and it’s all good.
THE SNUG: where the Experiment used to live. Read more of my other stuff to find out where it lives now. — at The Island.

I’ve saved the best for last. Food at the ISLAND has been a let-down since Luke left the previous set-up: but with chef Oliver Seal in charge of the restaurant, the glory days are back. Alex is in charge of desserts, and sous chef Scott makes sure that Oliver’s standards (transferred from the successful Mayfair eatery ‘The Only Running Footman’) are meticulously met. I note that plate after plate is served to many a happy customer.

 
I am not a restaurant critic; I’m a musician who really likes food. I am more than happy to say I enjoyed Sunday Lunch at the ISLAND. Quibble about the price if you must: you won’t care because the quality is there on the plate.
I must not eat this. I must not eat this. I must not eat this. I must not eat this. I mummpf grrup slllp yum. — at The Island.
I had the Suffolk chicken roast, which was very good value at fourteen quid. Perfect with a Suffolk cider, I think. And I went back the following Wednesday and sampled a brioche bap of pulled pork and smoked bacon plus apple sauce on the side. Excellent with a pint of ‘Proper Job’: thank you very much.
 
There you have it – a thousand or so words about my local pub. Check it out yourselves and see if I’m right. And if you want to know about the sweets...don’t ask me. I’m a meat man, not a restaurant critic.
 
 
THE ISLAND ****
 
123 College Road, London NW10 5HA
Open weekdays from 12:00 to 11:30 (except Friday): open on Friday from 12:00 to midnight. Lunch is served from 12 to 4: dinner is served from 6 to 10:00pm.
Open on Saturday from 10:00 when brunch is served until 5. Dinner is served from 6 to 10:30pm.
Sunday Roasts, Bloody Marys, hot  sausage rolls, newspapers and board games available from midday: with service ending at 9:30pm.
Disabled access and toilet facilities on the ground floor.
 
Tel: 0208 960 0693 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
twitter @theislandnw10
 
 
Wills Morgan writes regularly for the Source Mag with exclusive music reports  and local  reviews - see links below
 
{module Facebook FanBox for articles}
 
{module Related articles} 

Comments   

#4 Anemonalove 2017-07-16 20:59
Hi fellas! Who wants to meet me? I'm live at HotBabesCams.com,
we can chat, you can watch me live for free, my nickname
is Anemonalove , here is my photo:

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-u5pGYuGNsSo/WVixiO8RBUI/AAAAAAAAAFA/JWa2LHHFI2AkHParQa3fwwHhVijolmq8QCLcBGAs/s1600/hottest%2Bwebcam%2Bgirl%2B-%2BAnemonalove.jpg
#3 Myles Emmerson 2013-07-10 20:08
I must say this review is not at all accurate. It sounds as though it was written by a musician who likes to eat free food. Maybe this chap should stick to music and leave writing to the professionals. The Island is a fantastic venue and this article does not do it justice. And the talk of aliens? What an odd comment to make about the neighbouring community who finds this a very satisfying bar/restaurant to frequent. Maybe the Island is out of reach of the musician's weekly entertainment budget Thumbs down to the free food scriber leaving writing reviews to those who can.
#2 Dan Filson 2013-06-25 14:42
There's a bit of nit-picking in this review, and to describe it as a change from a bar and restaurant into a brasserie seems an arcane distinction at best. Upstairs is a full-blooded restaurant with quite beautiful food. You can also be served food downstairs. My only niggle is that the music can be quite loud indoors so some grannies won't like it (nor the climbing the stairs). It's a popular and successful venue, and we need those. A real jewel.
#1 Shoosan 2013-06-23 18:48
Have to say that the 'aliens' flooding the opening night were mostly locals - thing is most of them came for the free drinks (the free drinks AND canapes that were alluded to in the flyers they all got through their letter boxes and which never emerged... ) Note to management: if you put 'drinks and canapes' on a flyer on an opening night, that DOES - doh! - imply free. (NB pub much nicer place to go to lately because of recent change in management - AND the food is much better if a little overpriced... £4.50 for a sausage roll should give you an idea... )

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

More News

Prev Next

Hits:2085

Portobello Radio Ep 42, with Chris Sullivan & Piers Thompson: The End Is Nigh Special.

Portobello

 Piping hot from the USB, the latest episode in ...

Read more

Hits:2131

Two meetings, one voice

Two meeting…

You had to be there. North and south of the boro...

Read more

Hits:12210

New Site

New Site

We're back ;)   Read more: New Site...

Read more

Hits:2630

Corbyn Won Kensington Nomination

Corbyn Won …

On July 21st Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly won th...

Read more

Hits:3497

Hats-off to Micky P: Portobello Live 3rd/4th May

Hats-off to…

Reflecting on the Portobello Live Festival - by ...

Read more

Hits:4226

Portobello community stands up against plans to turn iconic area into bland shopping centre

Portobello

Hundreds of protestors, including children and p...

Read more

More News 2

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Hits:5224

Greferendum: an anthology

Greferendum…

Thinking of Greece. ...

Read more

Hits:2763

Pink Cigar video release

Pink Cigar …

 Local down’n’dirty rock’n’roll outfit Pink Ciga...

Read more

Hits:4692

Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular

Gaz’s Rocki…

Gaz’s Rockin Blues 35th Anniversary Spectacular ...

Read more

Hits:3545

Interactive Video Art at The Dissenters Gallery Catacombs

Interactive…

On Saturday 4 July, 11-5pm, a chance to see the ...

Read more

Hits:3014

"Exposed" a Solo Show by Louis-Nicholas Darbon

"Expos…

 Coming up Thursday- June 4th -  at the Graffik ...

Read more

Hits:2917

Mock The Opera Protest @ Holland Park

Mock The Op…

A protest is taking place tomorrow at the Hollan...

Read more

Hits:5135

Where next for Labour?

Where next …

 Labour’s defeat in the UK general election on M...

Read more

Hits:2984

Artists For Nepal – local benefit gig for Nepal

Artists For…

 Thursday May 21st at the Elgin with music, film...

Read more

Hits:3189

RED ALERT by Maximilian Wiedemann

RED ALERT b…

West Bank last exhibition at the current buildin...

Read more

LOCAL

Prev Next

Hits:2131

Two meetings, one voice

Two meeting…

You had to be there. North and south of the boro...

Read more

Hits:2630

Corbyn Won Kensington Nomination

Corbyn Won …

On July 21st Jeremy Corbyn overwhelmingly won th...

Read more

Hits:4226

Portobello community stands up against plans to turn iconic area into bland shopping centre

Portobello …

Hundreds of protestors, including children and p...

Read more

Hits:2917

Mock The Opera Protest @ Holland Park

Mock The Op…

A protest is taking place tomorrow at the Hollan...

Read more

Hits:3309

Here's my proposal. What’s yours?

Here's my p…

  Local resident Tristan Hazell has plans for t...

Read more

Hits:3560

Cheer up! A new and more expensive supermarket opened up on the Portobello Rd

Cheer up! A…

Same, same, same...  ...

Read more

Hits:4415

Westway Trust releases statement of intent on the Portobello Village proposal

Westway Tru…

Following the strength of feeling against the cu...

Read more

Hits:6252

Westway Trust (WT) unveils Portobello Village

Westway Tru…

The debate has started over the redevelopment of...

Read more

Hits:3682

Sir Malcolm in the Middle

Sir Malcolm…

 Kensington MP Sir Malcolm Rifkind has been susp...

Read more

Hits:3651

'SHAMBOLIC' -  RBKC confuses 'want' with 'need'

'SHAMBOLIC…

Following our short article by Tristan Hazel on ...

Read more

ARTS

Prev Next

Hits:4048

Leon Löwentraut at the The Muse Gallery

Leon Löwent…

Never too early to become a full fledged artist ...

Read more

Hits:3545

Interactive Video Art at The Dissenters Gallery Catacombs

Interactive…

On Saturday 4 July, 11-5pm, a chance to see the ...

Read more

Hits:3014

"Exposed" a Solo Show by Louis-Nicholas Darbon

"Expos…

 Coming up Thursday- June 4th -  at the Graffik ...

Read more

Hits:2984

Artists For Nepal – local benefit gig for Nepal

Artists For…

 Thursday May 21st at the Elgin with music, film...

Read more

Hits:3189

RED ALERT by Maximilian Wiedemann

RED ALERT b…

West Bank last exhibition at the current buildin...

Read more

Hits:3138

A solo show of fresh works by Tim Fowler

A solo show…

  Coming up on April 2nd at the WestBank Galler...

Read more

Hits:6277

Darren Berry’s "The Crocodile of Old Kang Pow"

Darren Berr…

No crocodile tears here  - An unfinished opera p...

Read more

Hits:4374

PORTOBELLO LIVE 


PORTOBELLO

A much needed music, arts and performance festiv...

Read more

Hits:3242

Photographic Exhibition by Nadia Nervo at The Muse

Photographi…

A single fleeting moment by nadia nervo. ...

Read more

Hits:4844

"Sex. Pop. Vandal." A Solo Exhibition by Ben Allen

"Sex.

The London Westbank Gallery presents a fresh bod...

Read more

Local Events Calendar

<<  August 2017  >>
 Mo  Tu  We  Th  Fr  Sa  Su 
 
   

Upcoming Events

Social GK5

writers pic2

We're looking for writers! Join in! (scroll down the article)

Rants

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7

I don't do …

I don't do rants. But,

...it's a rant! ...

Read more

Last Night …

Last Night I Dreamt...

"I could see the body of Kim Kardashian..." ...

Read more

Portobello …

Portobello drinkers 'harassed' by children

  From our sports correspondent Dave 'the ...

Read more

Everyone’s …

Everyone’s a F*****g DJ

by Kensal Scream  At long last! Another salvo f...

Read more

Lap dogs …

Lap dogs & devil dogs - the final solution

By Kensal Scream Time for another rant by the K...

Read more

Trains and …

Trains and  lycra pants

 By Kensal Scream That Really Grinds my Gears i...

Read more

An e-mail f…

An e-mail from Billy Connolly?

We can not be sure that  it’s his but it co...

Read more

Reader's Choice

Hits:71039

The Colon Diaries by Steve Graham (all)

The Colon D…

  By Steve Graham Following several requests, ...

Read more

Your Experience

Real time web analytics, Heat map tracking

Login or Sign Up